Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stick 'em Up

I have developed a six-shooter mentality.

We use a squirt bottle to correct the dogs and cat. What is amazing to me is that a one hundred plus pound dog, one who will attack the hose when it is operating at full force, will cower when spritzed. However, this works. So, when Dirty Harry raids the trash and is careening through the house with garbage, trailing coffee grounds, I can say, "Leave it!" and aim and fire, and the four-legged malfeasant surrenders immediately.

If only this worked with children. Today I had breakfast, deciding to indulge in a box of cereal which last week was "Special K with Red Berries." Today, it is Stale Special K with Missing Red Berries Because They Were Picked Out and Eaten by My Oldest When I Wasn't Home. When I confronted Kiki, she denied any involvement despite my waving the squirt bottle in her general direction and staring at her squinty-eyed and in my best intimidating manner.

Maybe if I had a silver star.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good grief

This has been a hectic, wacky week.

Monday I did a vigil for hospice and got home about six to a totally messed up house and three kids who hadn't done their homework but who had eaten everything which was not covered with fur or marked "poison". On the way home, I stopped for chicken, and the young lady working the drive-thru opened the window and asked me, "Is it okay to have extra crispy breasts?" I couldn't answer that.

Tuesday I had to visit the facility where we are having graduation, then run out for dog food, then come home to cook supper, then take Rocky to boy scouts, then exercise, then run to the grocery store, then go back to pick Rocky up from scouts.

Wednesday, I decided to put macaroni and cheese in the crockpot, which would have worked out great except EG plugged in the toaster and not the crockpot. So I blithely attend a faculty meeting, run to get bread, go pick up one kid from choir, one from aftercare, and one from the principal's office, where she was summoned. Then we come home, where I find uncooked macaroni and cheese, which I prayerfully shove into a 450 degree oven. Then I go through backpacks, and find and sign a slip which was filled out on Rocky because he was using another kid's lunch to build cities on the cafeteria table. His reasoning: L said it was okay. Feed the kids, grab the rabbit, drop Kiki off at the library in the bigger city to wait for her girl scout meeting, and drive the rabbit and two younger kids to the library in our township for a Sit, Stay, Read program. The two younger kids, who know better, act as if they had been raised by wolves and go wild in the library. Nita decides she is going to backtalk me when I mention this to her when we are leaving, so I lean into the back of the van to grab her. She nimbly hops into the hatch, where she presses herself against the back window and screams hysterically, banging on the glass, and causing all the spectators at the ball game in the recreation complex adjoining the library to spectate me instead of the players. When we get home, she jumps from the car and runs away up the driveway.

I do not follow. In fact, I secretly wish she had done this at the library, where I could have driven off. Ooops. Silly me--so forgetful now that I'm nearing menopause.

Eventually, she returns, and I inform her through clenched teeth and with bugging eyes that it is time for bed. She evaluates her options and wisely goes. Leaving her with her dad, I go get Kiki from the library.

So when Kiki, who is sitting in the living room where there are three clocks, just asked me what time it was, I wasn't surprised. I simply said, "The same time it is in there."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You may call me "Your Highness"

Last night Rocky was wandering aimlessly around the house and asked to go outside. Since our neighbor had a bunch of boys playing at her house, and since I knew they wouldn't think to invite Rocky, and since I knew he would stand there and stare and look pitiful, I said no.

Instead I offered to let him earn some extra money for his boy scout campout this weekend. The deal is that he pays for half the campout, and we pay for half the campout. Since he doesn't earn enough allowance-wise to pay for a campout, I offer him the opportunity to earn extra money by doing household chores.

Rocky said, "I don't feel like working right now."

Now, since I had worked yesterday after spending Thursday night with my mother, who had what was apparently a stroke, and was then in the middle of grading papers, cleaning the kitchen, making a grocery list, and cooking supper, I was, ahem, somewhat annoyed by this statement.

"Fine," I said. "I don't feel like cooking your supper." He retreated to his room.

Later I asked him about his statement, and he made matters worse by clarifying it by saying, "I think you should just pay for everything." Then he stepped in it. "And I am sorry we had to have this conversation."

He is lucky his head is attached.

So this morning, I wrote down my normal list of chores for Saturday. And I told Rocky, "I've been thinking about what you said. You're right...I will pay for the entire campout." He looked suspicious as well he should.

"However, you will spend the day with me, doing all these chores which I normally would have to do." And I didn't add, I will do some housework, but mostly I will sit and do the things I want to do for a change.

So, right now, I am on my computer, and the birds are singing outside, the girls are talking quietly in their rooms, and Rocky is gagging as he cleans the toilet. Music to my ears.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here kitty, kitty

We have a kitten named Amber, who is about eight months old. She is a smaller cat, sweet, and not happy about Dirty Harry, so she lives upstairs in the girls' bedrooms and bathrooms. She will come downstairs, but Harry alerts to her, runs at her to say HI, and consequently chases her back upstairs. The dogs don't go upstairs, as they wear radio collars, and their wire boundary runs right across the front of the house, so they will get zapped if they try to get up to the girls' rooms. Most times.

Nash, our Lab/Dane?Boxer?Pitbull? mix, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, he may qualify to be a spoon. Anyway, the cat has been with us for two months, and just on Sunday Nash noticed there was a cat in the house. I could just about hear Scooby-Doo and his "Whaaaah?" sound when Nash spotted the kitty. Then he apparently forgot about it.

Yesterday I was sorting laundry, and I heard a lot of barking and screaming. As this is somewhat the norm around here, I ignored it. Nita burst into the room and said, "Nashie is upstairs!"

"Where's the kitty?"

"He's got her!"

I flew up the stairs to discover a cat, one side covered in dog spit, hanging on Kiki's screens, hissing and spitting. The curtains were on the floor. Nash was trampolining on the bed, and the cat was swinging by three feet and swiping with the fourth, screeching and hissing like crazy.

I pulled the dog off the cat, and dragged him back a few feet. The kitty launched herself off the screen onto the dog's head (and my hands), spitting and clawing like crazy. I shut the dog out of the room, and Rocky hauled him back downstairs, where he dripped blood all over everything and everyone.

We put him in his crate and cleaned up the mess.

A few minutes later, after cranking up the range on the radio collar, I offered to let Nash go see the kitty. He excitedly agreed to a new adventure until he got zapped. Then I cleaned his shredded ears, turned the fence back down and said, "Want to go see the kitty?"

He said no, thanks, she activated a force field and, besides, she pulled a Freddy Krueger on him.

The kitty, on the other hand, is now ready to rumble.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Everyone knows it's windy...

Yesterday we got the remnants of Ike, which meant the wind blew and blew and blew all day, with major gusts. The pine cones came out of the trees, the apples fell to the ground, and Nature pruned many dead branches, not to mention removing many live trees and re-routing traffic through this afternoon.

The power outages were the big topic of conversation wherever I went today. I think I had the best story, as my sister, who works for the school system, called me at six o'clock this morning and said, "Do you have power?" When I told her I did, she said, "Will you watch TV to see if I have school?"

She did. When she hung up, she commented she didn't know what she was going to do about brushing her teeth, as they have a well and a pump. I wished her luck and yelled at the girls to turn out at least four of the lights which they had on upstairs.

Tonight I went to the county seat, and on the way back drove through the city next to our township. Several businesses had those signs which use the clear plastic letter-cards; you know, like the ones people rent to put in their front yards to advertise, "Lordy, lordy...honk for Nona, she's forty." Anyway, many of them were, well, shuffled. My favorite, in front of a restaurant, said, "then gree food" and on the next line, it added, "best wart."

I'll bet that really brought them in tonight.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A private memorial service

Today it is clear and sunny, and we finally put the hamster into the ground.

Friday, EG removed the little guy's body from the cage, wrapped it, and put it in a box on the porch. I realized, since the kids were going to be getting home before I was, I needed to tell them the hamster's body was removed, as they are good little Catholics and would have thought that "the stone has been rolled away and he arose!"

However, we had two days of rain of Biblical proportions, so the hamster was on the porch for a few days. My sister suggested that we put the hamster on a little funeral pyre, set him ablaze, and send his body down the stream which runs next to the house, much like what has been traditionally done on the Ganges river. I did entertain the thought for a moment--the amount of rain we had has caused the stream to have some exciting momentum, and I had a wonderful mental image of the blazing raft, complete with hamster, getting sucked into the culvert which runs under my neighbor's outbuilding. However, with my luck, the pyre would have caught on something beneath the floor, causing the barn to ignite and burst into flame itself.

I would have a hard time explaining that one.

So Alex is comfortably and safely buried in the front flower bed, deep enough to avoid being dug back up by the neighbor's cats, and later today we will cover him with a layer of mulch and some spring bulbs. We had a simple ceremony for Nita's sake; her simple elegy was, "You were a good hamster. See you in heaven." Alex would approve.

Friday, September 12, 2008

RIP Alex Trebek

For the last two days, our hamster, Alex Trebek, has been failing.

I fed him a bit of tomato yesterday afternoon, and he nibbled on it. Right before bed last night, I gave him a piece of orange, but he didn't eat it.

Dwarf hamsters live one to two years, and Alex was about a year and nine months. I hoped that he would go quickly and peacefully, and he appeared to do so, as I found him on the floor of his cage on his side this morning.

We didn't mention the demise to the children, but Nita asked if she could check on the hamster before school today. I told her we already had, hoping that would be the end of the discussion. But of course she asked how he was doing. I told her, "He didn't make it."

She said, "I'm not going to school" and started to cry. We convinced her that Alex, like the real Alex Trebek, would have wanted her to take every advantage of the education available to her. Unfortunately, she got seriously overwhelmed in math class and, as she put it, "really let go." Nothing like a little drama.

So, our "vermin with social status" has gone to the great beyond. We are not getting another hamster, as we have the three dogs, two rabbits, and a cat already; however, if a hamster somehow accidentally comes our way, we will most likely not turn him away.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Norm Wash

Recently, EG pointed out to me that "normal people don't have rabbits in the living room."

My response was, "And?" Yes, we have livestock cages stacked next to the TV, and yes, they shed, and yes, Bob doesn't like the pellets, so he flings them all over until he gets too hungry to ignore them any longer, and yes, we need plastic and newspaper for Willie's litter box accidents, but other than that, what is the point here?

Besides, we are not "normal people."

In fact, the only thing normal around here is an option on the dryer.

Even the dishwasher says, "NORM WASH" which makes me think we've gone into an episode of Cheers, one which would not air during primetime thankfully.

I find that "normal people" intimidate me. Case in point: I had Rocky at the doctor for one of our Gold Card Member visits, and we were discussing kids' rooms. I had always said that I didn't care what the kids' rooms were like, as long as they weren't verminous (which ended when the mouse invasion happened).

The doctor said his daughter thought that, as long as she could walk across her room without needing a tetanus shot, she felt the room was clean enough.

I didn't know what to say. Here I was picturing this nice, composed man in a calm, serene, and immaculate home (reason number one I wouldn't marry a doctor--there is no way I could maintain an immaculate, serene home--see above comment about rabbits). Could it be that his homelife wasn't normal? Was I measuring myself against an unrealistic expectation?

Which leads me to wonder...Is there anyone out there who is "normal?"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why Mothers Drink

The children get off the school bus at 2:35 p.m. and walk down the road to the house.

We then have the following routine:

-deposit backpacks and lunch boxes on counter in kitchen
-change into play clothes
-find school clothes for the next day
-assemble gym clothes if necessary
-get homework checked
-play time if applicable
-after-supper chores
-baths/pre-bedtime routine

This has been the same routine for five years now.

However, we lack the cooperation of all the participants. Rocky will sit and eat his snack, taking forever, and rubbing the pretzels or raisins or whatever in his fingers until I finally snap and take the food away until he moves on to the next item on the agenda.

Kiki will announce, "I have to write an essay" and then scream at me when I tell her two hours is too long for one paragraph, and she needs to do her chores and she is NOT DONE YET.

As for Nita, her routine consists of the following:

-put backpack and lunchbox in various places throughout the house
-change into playclothes
-gobble snack, leaving dip to eat with finger; cry when mom takes the bowl and puts it in the sink
-get sent back to room to get school clothes and gym clothes
-choose an item of clothing which is missing from the ensemble, and scream that she can't find it
-have a meltdown and sob because Mom is talking through clenched teeth
-start homework
-ask for help on every problem
-when Mom refuses to help until all the problems are attempted, throw pencil at Mom
-get sent to room for recovery time
-return to put homework papers in brother's backpack
-cry because today is the first day or Ramadan and we don't celebrate it
-scribble all over math workbook page because Mom marked an item wrong
-smack brother because he mentions this was not smart
-eat supper
-go to bed immediately
-get up, brush teeth
-get sent back to bed
-get up, complain of headache
-get sent back to bed, stomping feet
-get up, cry because the community drawing wasn't complete
-get sent back to bed
-cry for ten minutes because there is now a distinct probability of failing third grade and maybe even fourth grade
-get up, look at Mom, and decide the smartest thing to do is go back to bed